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Washington, DC — Scientists, lawyers and other specialists working within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are expressing dismay about Administrator Stephen Johnson’s lack of “credibility” in explaining his decision to reject a request by California to regulate greenhouse gases from automobiles, according to a joint letter from labor unions released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The basis for Johnson’s December 19th decision announced in a hastily convened 6:30 pm press conference is now the focus of growing scrutiny. This morning, Johnson was grilled by members of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. His sworn testimony and answers only seemed to fuel doubts about the merits of his decision.

Johnson is refusing to release what have been reported to be unanimous staff recommendations that he grant the California waiver request. In today’s hearing, Johnson revealed, for the first time, that he was motivated to act abruptly due to reports of inaccurate “leaks” from his staff. Meanwhile, Johnson is defying Congressional requests for full release of documents detailing the recommendations from his technical and legal staff.

The union letter sent today cites Johnson’s pledges during his Senate confirmation hearings to –

  • Make “decisions based on the best available science”;
  • Uphold “as open and transparent decision making process as possible” and
  • Act to ‘strengthen and improve dialogue among government, the regulated community, public interest groups and the general public.”

The letter concludes that Johnson’s actions suggest “that you have disregarded the very principles you proclaimed in your confirmation testimony” and cast “a broad and dark shadow over the integrity of any future Agency decisions under your leadership.”

“By his performance today, Stephen Johnson forfeited whatever shred of credibility he once enjoyed,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that Johnson’s decision was represented as the product of months of legal and scientific deliberation yet Johnson cited the energy bill signed just that morning as the principal basis for his veto of state action. “There will be a growing chorus from Congress, his own employees and the public for Johnson to step down.”

The joint letter is signed by presidents of locals from four unions: the American Federation of Government Employees, the Engineers and Scientists of California, the National Association of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union. These unions represent thousands of EPA scientists, engineers and other technical specialists.


Read the letter to Administrator Johnson from EPA unions

View excerpts of overruled staff recommendations

See the 2006 mass call of EPA staff to move forward on greenhouse gas regulation

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